In school

How to stay plugged in on campus as a commuter student


     A lot of people, myself included, commute to college every morning. My apartment is a good 30 minute drive with traffic from my university, and it can be hard to feel plugged in when you're not living next door to your classes. Here are a few ways to stay connected as a commuter student.

Study on campus

It can be very tempting to head straight home after your last class of the day, but resist the urge. I've found that studying on campus makes me focus more and I'm more likely to actually get work done. I've been working on a roster of great hidden study spots around campus that I cycle through when I get too bored. Knowing all the best nooks around campus can help you feel more apart of it.

Try and attend games when you can 

 My school doesn't have a football team, but there are some sports. Home games are a great way to rally behind your university for cheap. Even watching an intramural sport can get you excited about your campus. Some games happen in the early afternoon, meaning you wouldn't have to go home and come back. Games make an awesome date night because it's normally pretty cheap.

Read the student newspaper 

Your student paper is a great resource to stay up to date on the university. They're probably reporting on policys in the university, events other ways to get involved. Knowing the news about your school keeps you in the loop on major events and policies happening around you.

Most of the time you can get hard copies of the paper for free around campus or check out their website. Even just following them on social media and reading the articles that spark your interest is helpful.  

Attend events, at least the big ones

I'm not a big go-out-and-do-stuff kind of person #introvertstatus. But I do make a point of attending the really big events and traditions. Each fall my university has a huge mud volleyball tournament. I had to work that day last fall, but stopping by and hanging out to watch some friends was a lot of fun.

Some schools have a ton of traditions and others not so much. Keep up with the big ones and make a point of going to at least a few each semester. Speaking of big events...

Go to homecoming

There's always this homecoming-high that happens during the fall. Homecoming was one of the few events I attended last year and I had so much fun. They had free food from around the community and made a point of handing out tons of swag - like the 20 or so buttons pinned to my cork board. 

Homecoming is a great way to feel connected to your university as a commuter, even if it's late in the evening consider making a point of going. In high school homecoming was an excuse to wear stupidly large mums, I think us Texans should carry that into college.

Workout on campus

I'm really bad about this one. I actually pay for a gym membership off campus that's closer to my house, but it's a really good tip for those wanting to workout before or after class. Your gym membership on campus should be free or at least very cheap for students. Pack a gym bag to leave on the car and drive over or pick it up after your last class of the day.

Get an on-campus job

This one might be a little harder if you live off campus and have to make a certain amount of money for rent and such. But if you have extra time look into finding an on campus job with the Rec center or college paper.


Make lunch dates on campus

I normally eat lunch in the newspaper office, but I always see people in the communal seating area eating lunches they brought from home. Meal plans or buying food can get really expensive. Scope out the shared microwaves around campus and meet friends after class to share lunch. 

Join some organizations

Look into the different organizations on campus that are interesting to your or relate to your major. There should be an activities fair each semester where you can see what your university has to offer. It's fine to ask when these groups meet. If you know you're not going to be on campus at eight p.m. for ultimate frisbee practice three nights a week, then it's probably not a good idea to sign up.

Be realistic about how much time you can commit to a club. Paying the membership fees can feel like a waste if you don't make time to actually go to the meetings and events.


Conclusion

While living off campus can be hard, there are still ways to feel connected. A college experience is all about what you make of it. And you're in charge of the college experience you want to have. 

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